Picture of a magnifying glass with the text "Google Improves Search Terms Report, Maintains Privacy

Google Improves Search Terms Report, Maintains Privacy

Google recently announced an improvement to the search terms report in Google Ads. Last year, Google removed much of the data from the search terms report in the name of “consumer privacy.” This limited the ability of PPC managers to reduce wasted spend by setting irrelevant search queries as negative keywords.

Google has now given us back some of that data while still ostensibly maintaining user privacy. Advertisers will now be able to view data for queries with a “substantial” number of impressions but no clicks. (Sidenote – isn’t it interesting that a data driven tech company like Google uses vague terms like “substantial” rather than specific numbers? It’s almost like they don’t want you to know too much. 🤔)

With this announcement, you will now be able to see more queries going back to February 2021. Googles’ ads liaison Ginny Marvin indicated that “advertisers will now see on average 6.5x more queries with their reports”.

Why it Matters

The search terms report previously only showed search queries that resulted in a click. This prevented advertisers from being able to identify and block irrelevant search queries before they resulted in a paid click.

For example, your account may have a phrase match keyword “divorce lawyer”. If someone Googled “become a divorce lawyer”, your ad could appear. If the searcher did not click on the ad, it would not show in your search terms report. Only after paying for the click would you be able to identify and block it. And sometimes, with the last update, you might not even be able to see a search term if they clicked an ad!

With this update, you will be able to see this type of search term provided it has significant search volume. Last year, Google Ads updated the search term report to only include search terms with “significant” volume. Today’s announcement does not change that. Search terms with low volume may not show up regardless of whether the ad was clicked or not. 

Advertisers now have access to more details about what search terms an ad appeared for but did not result in a click. This will help PPC managers set irrelevant search terms as negatives before they result in wasted spend. 

Historical Data & Privacy

The changes made last year were to “ensure user anonymity” for all searches. This change does not impact Google’s commitment to maintaining privacy. In fact, there will be on-going changes across Google over the next few months. 

This includes how they handle historical data. Search query data prior September 2020 will be removed after February 2022, if it does not meet their new privacy thresholds. That gives you some runway to export your data if you want to be able to reference it in the future.

Help is on the Way

In the next few months, we will be getting additional resources to understand search query themes. These resources will be on the Insights page which is currently in beta.

Insights will allow advertisers to identify trends and changes to search interests. You will be able to see changes to clicks, impressions, and cost over time. It will also include data regarding trends for search terms & keywords, and even help to identify new search terms. 

The search trends within Insights will contain search query data that did not appear on the search query report. In theory, this should help advertisers get a better understanding of search traffic, even if we don’t see the search term.  

Our Insights

This is a step back in the right direction to grant advertisers more visibility to search term data. It shows that Google actually listens to feedback and puts it into action while still maintaining their commitment to privacy. 

We are eager to learn more about the additional resources for the Insights page and how it can help us tailor campaigns to current search trends. We hope that Google continues to listen to feedback from advertisers and continues to provide more insightful data into search traffic and trends.

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